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Mind and Soul

February 22, 2024 | Opinion | Volume 28 Issue 4
Randy Haluza-DeLay | Columnist
Photo Dlxmedia/Unsplash.

Grace has increasingly become my lens for reading both scripture and other people. I have come to think grace—the wildly undeserved favour dispensed by God—is the most important feature of the gospel.

Grace helps me ponder alternative understandings of biblical stories. It reminds me that I may not know someone else’s reasoning or the experiences that map the world they navigate.

That is why we need to listen to as many diverse voices as we can.

This is my last column for Canadian Mennonite. It has been a wonderful several years, longer than I expected.

There will be new writers. Seeing the world through different eyes, cultural lenses, neurodiversities, politics and positions in church and society makes us more grace-ious (grace-full?), and thereby more compassionate—maybe even more able to take on the mind of Christ.

The story of the 10 lepers haunts me (Luke 17:11-19). Ten were healed and one came back to thank Jesus. The narrative seems to denigrate the other nine.

Before this incident, the lepers kept their distance from other people. They knew the social rules and did not infringe on the space given to “clean” people.

Jesus sent them off, not telling them that they were healed but that they should go to the priests—the social arbitrators of the rules of that society— to be checked out and be certified as free of this awful and contagious disease.

“And as they went, they were made clean” (Luke 17:14). One turned back toward Jesus even before reaching the priests: a Samaritan, an outcast in the social hierarchy of the land.

An obvious lesson: Don’t discount the socially outcast, racialized, oppressed, immigrant, or anyone else who is “normally” denigrated.

The principle is that you cannot assess a society except by looking from the perspective of those who occupy less-than-central positions of power, privilege and status.

In the early years of my faith commitment, I focused on the one who came back to Jesus. In these later years, I wonder more about the other nine. What if Jesus asked about those who didn’t return to get us to think about them instead of judging them?

What if three were ecstatic to reconnect with family? Or another three wanted to feel the water and wind on fresh skin and exult in being fully alive and unimpaired again?

Perhaps one knew he was already wanted by the authorities, who had left him alone as long as he was considered “diseased.” Another knew she would be terribly judged as a woman hanging out with disreputable men.

It could be that two preferred life on the margins. Yes, they actually did. No, they were not delusional.

One was run over by a Roman chariot.

Several were grateful but didn’t know how or where to find the wandering healer again.

Two were so mired in depression that even healing could not shake them loose.

Maybe a couple others did not comprehend what had happened and glorified the mystery in their home congregation.

Perhaps two more didn’t know how to label what they felt, so expressing “thanks” never crossed minds unfamil- iar with the feeling.

At this point, dear reader, do the math: The story says nine failed to return, but I’ve listed more than nine possible reasons here.

I distrust my ability to “read” others. Experience has taught me that my interpretations of subtle body language, facial cues and outright action may often be in error.

The reverse has been true, too.

A supervisor once told me that I was “unfriendly.” He saw someone wave (at me?) as I strode down a long hallway. I was deep in thought, plus, the heavy glasses correcting my poor eyesight bounce as I walk. I never saw the person wave.

The supervisor ordered me to “try harder.” I still don’t think that was really the issue.

There is an implicit judgmentalism usually implied in the story of the 10 lepers. But what if we take this story to mean we simply don’t know what is going on in the minds and actions of other persons? The human condition is a sort of solidarity, but with hefty elements of uncertainty. Therefore, be full of grace! 

Randy Haluza-DeLay lives in Toronto and can be reached at

Read more Mind and Soul columns:
On loneliness and lifelines
The best non-Christmas Christmas song
Can we talk about capitalism?

Photo Dlxmedia/Unsplash.

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This is an insightful piece of personal and religious thought. Thank you for changing the perspective. Turn the world upside-down and everyone will have new perspective for life!

Very helpful. Nice note too, for last column! Enjoyed them...

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